They must be out there, somewhere. Somewhere in the South Alouette River sockanee are skulking about, hiding where it’s cold and dark, and waiting until the river cools down, when they can make a run to the Alouette reservoir, where they can spawn and complete their life cycle.
Usually, by this time, they’ve already done so.
August long weekend is when the new run usually peaks, when about 50 sockanee return to the Allco hatchery or the base of the Alouette dam.
But so far this year, only seven have shown up.
“We’re not concerned. We’re just doing our job, keeping our record of when they come back,” said Amanda Crowston, special projects manager with the Alouette River Management Society.
“We’ve heard from residents that they’ve been spotted holding in other places in the river.”
It could be the sockanee are just waiting for the fall rains and cooler temperatures which makes it easier to swim and spawn.
The fish are actually sockeye but are nicknamed sockanee because they used to be considered kokanee, landlocked in the Alouette reservoir by the B.C. Hydro dam for 88 years.
Then in 2005,some adventurous kokanee made a run for it, and swam over the top of the dam, when the society was studying a release of coho salmon over the top of the dam.
Those kokanee returned to spawn, were confirmed as part of the Alouette system and were nicknamed sockanee.
Now, only a year remains in a seven-year study of the river. A report based on the data will be used to present a business case to B.C. Hydro for construction of a fish ladder, about a $3-million project.
While a ladder will allow sockeye to return to the lake and spawn, re-establishing an age-old connection between the river and the reservoir, will benefit all species including coho, chinook and pink salmon.